Goals from Karin Stevens and Kristen van de Ven helped the Netherlands to take a giant step towards qualifying for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ as the visitors enjoyed a play-off first-leg victory in Spain.
The Netherlands have never reached the finals before and looked outsiders for this tie. Despite Spain having the best of the first half, Stevens struck just after the break and Van de Ven's goal leaves Vera Pauw's side in command ahead of Thursday's return in Volendam.
After just 12 minutes Van de Ven forced a fine save from Ainhoa Tirapu in the Spanish goal as the visitors declared their intent. Spain responded through Silvia Meseguer's shot from distance in the 12th minute while Adriana Martin had an effort cleared away for a corner moments later. Spain were gathering momentum and almost took the lead before the break when Erika Vázquez collected Ana Romero's pass from the left before hitting a dipping shot that bounced out off the crossbar.
The visitors went ahead not long after the restart when Stevens, given time and space to unleash her shot, finished off a good move that had started out on the right wing. The goal stunned Ignacio Quereda's charges who subsequently allowed their opponents to take control. The locals managed to briefly lift themselves, however, Erika's tireless efforts to breach the Dutch back-line were met with solid defending. Then, with the game heading into its final six minutes and with Spain defending high up the pitch, Van de Ven rushed through on goal and kept her head to finish coolly.